The Conspiracy of Cleaning



I’ve lived in apartments all my adult life. Basic ones, not badly constructed, but nothing fancy. Like Home Depot spit up in them. (No offense to Home Depot, love that place.) You know, basic cabinets made up of wood or a wood like substance. Counter tops that came out of a kindler, gentler time when yellow didn’t have to look like the sun.

Walls are always white. Heater vents are white. Any drawers or shelves or closet doors that are part of the apartment, white, white, white.

Which means just one thing: they get dirty faster. Correction, they don’t get dirtier any faster than a nice stainless steel counter top, let’s say; you can just see it faster. Which means you have to clean it more often. And when you think you’ve got something clean, that just exposes another area. Don’t dare move an appliance or the area underneath will make your skin crawl.

So you scrub. And you scrub. The counter tops, the sink, the refrigerator, the white walls, the white closet doors, all the white white white!

As I finished today I thought of all the times that I’d asked landlords, why white? And they said how it was easier to adjust from tenant to tenant. Cheaper to paint over. I sat down with a cool iced tea and looked at the counter tops, the refrigerator. And then it dawned on me. It wasn’t the landlords. It was the cleaning supply companies!

Yeah I’m talking to you Proctor and Gamble and you Prestige, and yes, even you Arm /and /Hammer. You’ve been infiltrating contractors, builders, architects and all of the major home improvement stores to make sure that everything that was designed, built and sold for most homes and apartments was white. Or some slight off-shoot of it. So that all of the people that were raised in the suburbs on clean, shiny homes and lawns would have to maintain the appearance. And clean and clean and clean every time something got a little dirty. You should be ashamed of yourself.

And don’t get me started on the toilets.

A Conversations Between Angels XVI

“What are you looking at?”

“The map.”


“Yeah, the map of Heaven.”

“I didn’t know they had that.”

“Yeah, it’s in the gift shop.”

“And what are you looking for?”


“Why would they have Hell on a map of Heaven?”

“Well you know, like those mall directories that show ‘you are here’, I thought maybe they’d show you where Hell is.”

“But those things show you what’s in the mall, Hell is not in Heaven.”

“And you know this for a fact? I thought maybe it was like a room for detention like in school.”

“No, I’m pretty sure it’s a whole ‘nother place, you boob.”

“Then how do you explain how there’s people here, from History, that have been called evil?”

“Like who?”

“Look at that guy over there. He shaved his mustache, but that still looks like Hitler to me.”


“See, can’t answer?”

“Well not completely, but everything is white up here.”

Just a White Guy

In 2010 I was a crew leader for the US Census. At every dwelling we had to go through the list of 15 different races so the resident could determine which category best described the individual. You could also write it in. And as the Census employee, you had to go through this list for all the members of the family.  So everybody got all kinds of choices, except for someone like me: just white.

Now I’m not complaining about the classifications and I’ve had no trouble adapting to the changes from the basic descriptions of individuals as black, yellow or brown when I was a kid to African-American, Asian-American or Hispanic American. I’m all for respect. But how about some love for us milk-toast, cracker folk?

How come we never got any sub-categories? How come no one ever took a moment to think that maybe we don’t want to be called white?  We didn’t even get caucasian on the 2010 Census!

Personally I prefer tan. And in fact, wish that I had more Italian blood so my skin would be more olive. It looks better when you’re bald. There are gradients, the only real white people are the Irish. And they sure wouldn’t want to be included with the French. From what I hear, nobody wants to be included with the French. At least that’s what I learn watching British TV shows.

Why is there no European-Americans classification to distinguish oneself from the Scandinavian-Americans. You’d have a better menu to choose from if you could automatically identify the former. And wouldn’t the marketing geniuses like to target the Redhead-Americans from the Blonde-Americans since there’s no photos on the Census. Hello Coppertone, time to lobby government, 2020 will be here before you know it.

So next time I’m going to remember to write it in. Italian-Norwegian-Polish-Middle Class Suburban-Moved to the City-SBF 15-American.